Drupal 8 End of Life: What does it mean for your D8 website?
The only truth in the universe which is constant, is that everything evolves. So why would Drual be any different? Like all things, Drupal versions evolve and older versions reach ‘End of Life’ (EOL) after their full lifecycle.
The latest version of Drupal is version 9 which was released in 2020. This means that previous versions of Drupal which are currently in use, Drupal 7 & 8, will reach their end of life soon.
Let us first understand what is ‘end of life’ in the context of Drupal.
What does End of Life really mean?
Think of a large container ship which is anchored. Till you’re anchored you’re supported and fixed. Minor waves cannot shake you. But what if we remove the anchor. In the context of web development, you can relate these waves to security threats and vulnerabilities.
So when any version of Drupal reaches its EOL, the bugs are not fixed by the community, vulnerabilities are not identified nor removed. So after reaching EOL, your Drupal website will be like an unanchored ship floating in dangerous waters with the constant threat looming over.
Everything will still work on your website, just like the ship which can still float without the anchorage. But you don't know, nor can you predict when you’ll hit a rogue wave and topple over.
So in order to keep your website (and your business) anchored, it's best to upgrade while you still have time.
When and why is Drupal 8 reaching End of Life?
Drupal 8 is reaching its end of life on November 2, 2021. That means post this date there will not be community support, updates of bug fixes. But let us understand why this is happening.
Drupal, to be the all-round CMS we all know and love, uses certain third-party dependencies.
Symfony 3 EOL
The biggest dependency of them all currently, is Symfony. Drupal 8 makes use of Symfony 3. Drupal 8 is connected to the life cycle of Symfony 3, which is reaching its end of life in November of 2021.
Now, Drupal could have supported Drupal 8, if Symfony 4 (the next version of Symfony) would have supported backwards compatibility. But since that is not the case, Drupal must also move to its next version, which is Drupal 9.
PHP 7.3 EOL
Similarly, the official support for PHP version 7.3, another component Drupal 8 relies on, will end after December 6, 2021. The same thing will happen to CKEditor 4.
“Each of these components have their own lifecycle. They release new major versions, they end of life major versions, they may or may not create backwards compatibility and so on and this is something we have to manage.”
– Dries Buytaert
These are the primary reasons behind Drupal versions reaching end of life, because of critical third-party dependencies moving ahead.
What happens to your website when Drupal 8 reaches EOL
Nothing immediately. But without critical support and bug fixes, the framework will soon start to crack and after a certain amount of time, will reach a point where your bottom line will start getting affected. In the worst-case scenario, it can even result in a cyber-threat leading to data breaches and attacks.
What should you do to stay secure?
Upgrade to Drupal 9
To stay protected and save your website (and business) upgrade to Drupal 9 as soon as possible. We offer a free Drupal 9 readiness audit to help you determine how easy or difficult it would be for you to upgrade. In either of the scenarios, we can help you with end-to-end solutions for your Drupal 9 upgradation or migration needs.
Steps to a Drupal 9 upgrade
Step 1: Make your Drupal 8 website compatible to Drupal 9. Which means that you’ll have to install the minor Drupal 8 upgrade and bring your D8 website to version 8.8 or 8.9 which are directly compatible with Drupal 9.
Step 2: Update your themes, modules and third-party integrations to make them compatible with Drupal 9.
Step 3: Once you have updated your core to Drupal 8.8 or later, and have updated all the modules, themes, install Upgrade Status module and check for deprecated codes.
Step 4: Once you have removed the deprecated code you are truly ready for your Drupal 9 upgrade
Step 5: Upgrade your Drupal core to D9 and voila, you’re there!
Frequently asked questions
Will your Drupal 8 website stop working after it reaches the end of life?
As stated before, no your website will still function, but it will not receive critical updates which keeps the entire core secure and bug-free.
When will Drupal 9 reach the end of life?
Drupal 9 will reach its end of life in November of 2023.
When will Drupal 10 be released?
With no fixed date yet, Drupal 10 is slated to release between June and November of 2022.
What if you have a Drupal 7 website?
The easier way is to upgrade to Drupal 8 then go to Drupal 9, but since Drupal 8 is almost at the end of its upgrade cycle, it would be pointless to go through D8. In this situation, it would be best for you to migrate your Drupal 7 website directly to Drupal 9. It would be more work, but you can offload that to us.
Going to Drupal 9 is the best thing that can happen to your Drupal website. Whether you are on Drupal 7, or on Drupal 8, or even Drupal 6 (ideally you shouldn’t be on Drupal 6), we are happy to help you in reaching the latest and greatest of Drupal. We have done this for numerous of our clients and can do this for you as well, click here to know more about the Drupal Migration services we offer.